One of the 12 small, friendly communities that make up the Parksville/Qualicum Beach area is the city of Parksville. It has earned the title of "Canada's Riviera" due to the serene sandy beaches of Parksville Bay and Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park
. However, while it's gaining popularity as one of the ideal summer vacation spots to connect with nature, the city has its fair share of boutiques, sports centers and many modern amenities that will make it your home away from home. On the other hand, it offers culture and history enthusiasts the chance to rediscover their passions at world-renowned venues.
Getting to Parksville
You can reach Parksville easily by following Vancouver Island's Highway 19 (a.k.a. Island Highway) until you reach the nearby Qualicum Beach and the Comox Valley. From Qualicum Beach, travel seven kilometers in the south-east direction until you see signs welcoming you to the city.
History and Climate
The Spanish were the first explorers of the area back in 1791. In their maps, they named the Englishman River and French Creek surrounding Parksville as Rio de Grullas (River of Cranes) and Punta de Leonardo (Point of Leonardo). The earliest records of settlers in the area date back to 1873 when John Hirst pre-empted 300 acres of land on both of the Englishman River's sides. Until the turn of the century and the construction of Nanaimo, the river served as an outpost. A post office was later introduced to the small community. Mail was circulated from Nelson Parks' cabin, or Parksville's namesake.
By 1901, Parksville became an active member in the logging industry as well as an extension of the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway. This started the tourism boom that still continues in full force till this day. Spurred by the growth of this industry, motels, stores and resorts were built in the area. However, it wasn't until 1945 that Parksville became a village. It was later in 1978 that it was incorporated as a town and much later in 1986 that it became a city. Till this date, it continues attracting people through tourist attractions, services and different industries, which is why it currently houses young families and retirees from different backgrounds.
The climate of Parksville further contributes to the city's popularity. The absolute maximum temperature recorded in the city was 32° C in June whereas the absolute minimum was 2°C in February. February is also the windiest month in the city followed by December and January respectively. As for precipitation, expect the highest amount to be in January and December, which can reach 80mm.
For those who love the beach, Parksville is one of the best places to be. If you especially enjoy swimming and building sandcastles, schedule your visit between June and September. That way, you'll enjoy the water at its warmest and even attend the world class Quality Foods Canadian Open Sand Sculpting Competition and Exhibition
. Featuring the top sand sculptors in the world, the competition allows sculptors 30 hours over four days to create masterpieces using only sand and water.
If you're more of a land person, you can go mountain biking at the Top Bridge recreational area near Resort Drive. You're also welcome to go hiking at the trails within the Mount Arrowsmith UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. To truly make your trip worthwhile, sign up with one of the tour operators in the area for a guided tour. On the other hand, if you want to take things slow, you can go golfing in the mini-golf capital of Western Canada, go bird watching at Hamilton Marsh, or soak the stress away at rock-walled mineral pool.
Parksville also offers a range of weekly and annual events. For instance, you can head to Errington Farmer's Market to buy local produce on Saturday mornings from May to September. You can also take part of the fireworks-filled Canada Day celebrations or enjoy the displays, craft fairs and unique events that make the Bethlehem Walk celebration so special.
If you love arts and culture, this is an ideal place to vacation at. You can head to the Oceanside Community Arts Council to view the works of local artists and artisans. Or try the Englishman River Gallery, which is open every day of the year to allow visitors to experience Vancouver Island's artistic side. You can even purchase some artistic items for yourself or loved ones at the Station Gallery near the red railway water tower on the Alberni Highway. On the other hand, if you love the theater and performing arts, catch the local Bard to Broadway troupe perform musicals, comedies and acts for the whole family at the Parksville Chrysler Theatre from July to August.
Speaking of families, there is no end to the family attractions you can visit in the city. Enjoy the tropical Butterfly World and Gardens on Highway #4A, the exotic World Parrot Refuge, and Tiger Lily Farm, the latter which provide trail rides through a forest and a petting zoo.
Parksville Accommodation and Dining
Due to its beautiful oceanfront, you can find many first-rate resorts in Parksville offering condos, townhomes and cottages. There are also numerous B&Bs within Errington and Nanoose Bay. Aside from these, you can always book a motel room, campground spot, or RV site. Just make sure to book ahead, especially if you're visiting during summer and the holiday seasons.
As for dining, the city offers many options to suit the different palates and budgets. Aside from coffee shops and resort restaurants, you can head to Rod & Gun, Bugsy's Bar & Grill, or Stewart's for casual or picnic fare. You can also grab some ethnic specialties around the city, including Thai, East Indian, German, Chinese, Vietnamese and Japanese.
With a range of activities and offerings for every taste and every individual, Parksville is definitely a good destination to head to whether you're traveling to British Columbia alone, as a couple or with your family.